Monday, February 4, 2008

Computer Gaming - The Future of the Peace?

I've been meaning to write about this very cool topic for a while now and just haven't managed to get around to it... until tonight that is.

If you think that the Peace Country is only about traditional resource based businesses like oil and gas or forestry you'd be part right. They do, of course, play a huge role in our economy as do agriculture and (to a growing extent) retail tourism but what else is there? What could we look to diversify our economy?

Well, the folks a PREDA (Peace Region Economic Development Alliance) have an answer:

Computer Game Industry Development

PREDA has done a lot of work on this so I'll let them explain it in their own words:

"Computer games in North America have gross sales exceeding $10 billion dollars annually. To give this some perspective, this is more income than total Hollywood box office receipts. Some analysts have computed that current annual world sales of computer games are approximately $30 billion and that this figure could grow to $100 billion within the next decade.

Canada has an excellent reputation for producing computer games including major studios such as: Electronic Arts Canada in Burnaby, British Columbia; Bioware in Edmonton; Rock Star games in Toronto, Ontario; and Ubisoft in Montreal, Quebec. Dozens of smaller studios have been established across the country - with major city centres such as Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal being hotbeds of development. Even smaller communities have been able to attract game studios, including HB Games in Lunenberg Nova Scotia, Thunderbird Games on the Queen Charlotte Islands and HermitWorks Entertainment of Grande Prairie.

What this means is that computer game companies the world over are constantly looking to hire both new and experienced employees in order to meet the demands of providing new and exciting games.

The creation of computer games involves a complex mix of talented individuals including: computer programmers who build the game engines and toolsets; concept artists; modelers and animators; designers; as well as musicians and sound effects specialists. Currently, the Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) Computer Science and Fine Arts Departments collaborate to graduate students with the interdisciplinary educational requirements and industry skills needed to pursue a career in new media.

GPRC alumni are currently employed throughout North America at large computer game studios including BioWare, Electronic Arts (EA), Backbone, and HermitWorks Entertainment. A group of stakeholders sees an opportunity to grow the computer gaming sector in the Peace Region.

Interested in becoming involved? Contact PREDA Cyber Infrastructure Chair Libero Ficocelli at 780.539.2825 or PREDA Project Officer Nicole McMullan at 780.538.5635."

If this is your kind of thing, or you know someone who might be interested, check out more on the the Launch Effect discussion board here. And even though it's over you might be interested in GameXpo 2007 that happened this winter at the college.

I'd have to sat that in an economy where more and more jobs are going to be based on what you know this is a good step towards the future.

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